Aero Spacelines Guppy and Super Guppy


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Aero Spacelines was a company in Van Nuys, California, that serviced the rocket and missile industry by converting Boeing 377 Stratocruiser aircraft into specialized high-volume cargo planes for carrying stages of large rockets and missiles.  Its total output from 1962 to 1967 was just eight aircraft, but these became very famous because of their unusual appearance and were indispensable to the U.S. missile and space program.  The company encountered financial difficulties and closed in 1967.

There were three models of Guppy.  The original Pregnant Guppy, often shortened just to Guppy, flew September 19, 1962, and was scrapped in 1979.  Five examples of the next version, the further enlarged Super Guppy, were built starting in 1965.  Of the five built, all survive; one is still in service with the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the other four are displayed in museums in four different countries (the U.S., Britain, France and Germany).  Finally, two examples of the less radically enlarged Mini Guppy were produced starting in 1967.  The first machine survived a long service career and is preserved; the other was destroyed in a crash within a few months of entering service.

The role of the Guppies is now mainly served by similar widening adaptations of civil jetliners made by Boeing and Airbus, as well as the largest of the conventional heavy transport planes.

Super Guppy N940

Converted from a USAF C-97 serial 52-2693, the Pima Air & Space Museum’s Super Guppy went to NASA as N940 and was also registered N1038V at one point in its career.

Mini Guppy N422AU

The surviving Mini Guppy is part of the Erickson Collection but may continue to be displayed at that collection’s former location in Tillamook, Oregon, at the former Tillamook Naval Air Station.

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Modeling Notes (with links to targeted eBay searches):  The Super Guppy was kitted a number of years ago under the Entex, Otaki and Revell brands (same kit) in 1/144 scale.  It’s basic, but looks right.
If you want the work done for you, Herpa Wings sells a 1/200 and a 1/500 diecast Super Guppy in Airbus markings.